We recently sat down with our CEO, Anthony Gale, to discuss Shoprocket, its history and how it was started.
What inspired you to start Shoprocket?
I’ve actually started two of my own businesses. One was a consultancy, the other was a digital agency that Shoprocket was born from. At the digital ecommerce agency, the other founders and I created code that we intended to only use for ourselves. We needed something that was faster and more efficient than what already existed. However we realised that all the existing solutions were painful to use for a number of reasons, so we created a solution for ourselves. During this process, we quickly saw the huge potential for Shoprocket - that the solution was not a service, but a product. It’s incredible, in retrospect, to think Shoprocket was born out of our own need, we wanted to see how useful this could be for everyone else. Ever since, we’ve continued to improve our product and grow Shoprocket.
Where would you like to see Shoprocket in the future?
Simply put, Shoprocket can make lives easier for store owners, customers, and developers. It would be great to see how big this can go, because the world needs Shoprocket. I want eCommerce to work for everyone, so site owners get more sales and customers have a smoother experience - get that right and you make people’s lives just that little bit easier. It’s a lofty expectation, but I hope that in the future, no one would use anything but Shoprocket as their eCommerce solution.
To add, I also hope we can develop a lot more features that will enable our customers to sell more. We continuously aim to make life easier for our customers. As we advance Shoprocket, we want to evolve the whole commerce cycle, not just eCommerce.
What’s your favourite thing about Shoprocket?
The simplicity of Shoprocket still astounds me. What’s even more impressive is the power that sits behind it all. From a single line of code, you can start selling hundreds of thousands of products to customers all across the world on this super fast, incredibly stable global infrastructure. It’s amazing to think we made something so powerful, yet simple, to begin with.
Have you always wanted to start a business?
Even before I studied business at university, I think I always knew I’d pursue business. When I was ten, I gathered all the other neighbourhood kids and we would wash cars for extra cash at the weekends. For as long as I can remember, I was always in the midst of creating some scheme or my own little businesses. So I really relate to what drives someone to start their own business and the rollercoaster of emotions that come with it. I also relate to how you get pulled in so many directions and that the last thing you need is something important - like your eCommerce - to be an added stress.
What advice would you give someone starting a business?
Start off with the basics, what are you selling and why. Who is your market and why do they want your product. But then you have to think about where in the world are they and how do you go about contacting and targeting them. Depending on what product you have, think about pricing and your branding. People don’t just buy goods, they don’t just buy any service, but they will buy into a brand. They buy into a company. Take IKEA for example. Sure their prices are reasonable, but that’s not the only reason people shop there. IKEA is really smart about understanding everything from the location of their centres, to the motivations of people at different stages in life, to ensuring that they’re stylish but affordable. On top of all this, they get that the shopping experience should be helpful. That’s the sort of company I admire - their approach is so comprehensive.
Of course, you can’t go from zero to IKEA overnight! But start with your market research, you need to understand what the opportunity looks like, and how best to succeed. Then just go for it. If you don’t try it you’re never going to succeed. If you’re not successful, it’s not a failure; it’s just learning, so apply that learning next time around.
What has surprised you most since starting Shoprocket?
The support we’ve received from our customers has really surprised me, the feedback we’ve received has been phenomenal - one of our biggest customers doubled their online sales by switching to Shoprocket. That’s huge, and of course, they’re pretty happy about that! Originally, we thought Shoprocket would appeal mostly to the SME market, but we’re seeing much larger established businesses have the same needs. We’re realising the market potential is even bigger than we’d expected. So we’re excited to see all the different types of customers we’re attracting and the feedback from customers has been great.
What’s your favourite memory you’ve had at Shoprocket?
It’s hard to say actually - on one hand I’d have to say coming out of Seedcamp week with an established credibility. The last two days of Seedcamp week is spent presenting to industry experts and potential investors. It was incredible presenting to hundreds of people and the feedback we received was fantastic. But on the other hand, the results we’re seeing from our sellers by making things easy for their customers is fantastic. Both of these things stick in my mind because they show the progress we’re making.
What's next for Shoprocket?
Next week, we will be both pitching and publicly launching at Web Summit in Dublin, where we'll compete to be named 2015's best startup. We'll also be unveiling Shoprocket Version 2, which will follow with a lot of exciting new features. We have plenty to look forward to in the next few weeks from features to some huge partnerships, and we can't wait to see what else the future has in store for us.